If you’ve been reading this column awhile, you know I’ve been talking about physical therapy for a long time. We’ve talked about how powerful and beneficial it can be once you commit and check into the program. We’ve discussed building meaningful relationships with physical therapists, and we’ve talked about how the therapists who have been most hard on us have been the ones who made us grow.
But one thing I haven’t talked about yet is how to own your physical therapy and make your program really work for you.
Admittedly, I have grown up with the phrase “you have a say in your treatment options and plans” for so long that by the time I was an adult and actually thought I could make decisions about the way my treatment plan was going, the words were like background noise. Since I started physical therapy at age 3, the routine of equipment and stretches has been predetermined and laid out. The only noticeable change in routine is, when you become an adult, the “games” you play to engage you in your stretches fall by the wayside, and it’s on you to motivate yourself. I struggled with internal motivation deeply when it came to my therapy, even though I was able to motivate myself in all other areas of life. During physical therapy, I took shortcut after shortcut and cheated myself.
I also felt forced into physical therapy; it wasn’t my choice as a child and I wouldn’t choose it now. I was bitter. I knew I needed the therapy and the discipline of a one-on-one therapist, but it was boring. I knew I liked yoga, however, and found some great wheelchair-friendly stuff that I knew I could try on my own. Once I tried this for a while and knew it was sticking as a positive outlet in my life, I told my therapist about some stretches I had been doing at home that gave me similar results to the things I was doing in my program there. She asked me for a few demonstrations, then we discussed if this was a safe alternative and what my limitations could be.
To my surprise, by doing yoga,I was reaping the same benefits without feeling miserable about the work! I found that pool therapy, as opposed to or in addition to my regular therapy, was way more exciting and positive for me, and it made me far more willing and engaged in all of the work I need to do to keep my body moving.
That’s it! That’s the journey. That is how you make your physical therapy work for you. Physical therapy is our exercise and we’re surrounded by a society that seems to be anti-movement, all of our pain and struggles make moving that much harder, no matter how badly we want to do it.
Most people take their bodies for granted and they don’t know it until it’s too late. Find any type of movement that you love, plug into your program and take care of your body now. It can be so much fun and it will be so worth it.
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